I.C.E. Signs a Large UT-based ISO

International Card Establishment has signed its fourth ISO and the largest one to-date. The Utah-based ISO should immediately increase the company’s new merchant account applications by approximately 80% on a monthly basis. I.C.E. offers diversified products and services to the electronic transaction processing industry and provides leasing services to the point-of-sale industry through its GlobalTech leasing subsidiary.

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Metris/DMCCB Introduces a Silly MasterCard

One-day after announcing it plans to issue Discover cards by the end of this year, Metris Companies/Direct Merchants Credit Card Bank has launched a new MasterCard credit card for Red Hat Society members. The new “Red Hat Society Platinum MasterCard” offers one “Fun Point” for each dollar spent in card purchases. Points are redeemable for travel, gift cards, Red Hat regalia and more. The card also gives “Red Hatters” and “Pink Hatters” the ability to emboss their royal title on the card. The Red Hat Society has members in more than 30 countries and has garnered international attention for its antics and belief that silliness is the comedic relief in life. There are currently more than 41,000 Red Hat Society chapters and about one million members worldwide. (CF Library 9/19/05)

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U.S. Bank & USEF Trot Out a New Card

U.S. Bank and the U.S. Equestrian Federation have trotted out a new affinity card. The “United States Equestrian VISA Platinum” card is available in three breeds: a non-reward card that contributes the most back to USEF; a second that earns points redeemable for merchandise, gift certificates or nearly any reward with the “Name Your Own Reward” option; and a third that provides cash back to the cardholder. The card supports USEF equestrian teams in their quest to compete in international competition. The USEF has more than 80,000 members.

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ChoicePoint Uncovers More Data Fraud

Atlanta-based ChoicePoint is making additional consumer notifications related to consumer data fraud. The firm is now issuing 9,903 new notices to consumers. Approximately 4,667 consumer notices are the result of information developed in the course of the continuing investigation of the California fraud incident announced in February 2005. Approximately 5,103 consumer notices are the result of certain customers’ valid IDs and passwords being misused. Approximately 133 consumer notices involve two licensed California private investigators who misused some personal information. ChoicePoint earlier this year disclosed a major breach that affected approximately 145,000 consumers from 50 states. (CF Library 3/7/05)

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Former AmEx CEO Joins PrimeRevenue Board

James Robinson, former Chairman/CEO of American Express, has joined the Board of Atlanta-based PrimeRevenue, a provider of supply chain finance solutions, via RRE’s investment into the firm. Proceeds from the investment will be used to accelerate its growth within the supply chain finance market, with particular focus on expanding its reach into the Global 2000. RRE Ventures invests in entrepreneurial technology companies with $600 million under management. PrimeRevenue is a supply chain financial services company that provides automated supplier finance, payables presentment and financial settlement services.

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Abanco Lands Concord’s Marty Skolnick

Illinois-based Abanco International has hired Marty Skolnick, formerly EVP of Concord Payment Systems, as COO/VP. As Executive Vice President at Concord, he directed operations, finance, human resources, client services, IT and the Independent Sales Office (ISO). Abanco International provides payment processing solutions to the automotive, hospitality, insurance, retail and transportation industries.

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Ottawa Senators and MBNA Launch a MasterCard

The Ottawa Senators Hockey Club and MBNA Canada launched a new credit card over the weekend, offering merchandise and experiential rewards. The new “Sens Rewards MasterCard” is the first of its kind for a National Hockey League team. Under the program, cardholders earn 1 “SENS” point for every dollar in purchases and receive 1,000 bonus “SENS” points after the first purchase. Points can be redeemed for travel with the team, golf with a SENS player, meet the head coach, ride on the Zamboni, and other “priceless” experiences. Redemptions start at 1,000 points for a water bottle and range to 1,000,000 points for travel with the team. The card carries a $29 annual fee and the ongoing interest rate for purchases is 19.99%. Entering their 14th season, the Ottawa Senators Hockey Club is a member of the NHL Eastern Conference, Northeast Division.

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CardSystems Implements Ingrian Solutions

Ingrian Networks announced that its products were selected by CardSystems Solutions to help it encrypt sensitive data in its applications and databases. Since February 2005, across the United States, and in virtually every industry, over 45 large-scale data breaches have been reported. These ongoing breaches clearly illustrate the need to encrypt sensitive data. Ingrian Networks brings complete data privacy to the enterprise. With Ingrian DataSecure Platforms, organizations can protect critical data from both internal and external threats, and ensure compliance with legislative and policy mandates for security.

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TSYS Renews Three TS1 Processing Clients

TSYS has renewed AmSouth Bank, Vancouver City Savings Credit Union and Trustmark National Bank has extended its long-term agreement. AmSouth is a top-20 U.S. bank-holding company. Vancouver City Savings Credit Union is Canada’s largest credit union. Trustmark is a subsidiary of Trustmark Corporation, a financial-services holding company based in Jackson, Miss. TSYS (www.tsys.com) is one of the world’s largest companies for outsourced payment services, offering a broad range of issuer and acquirer processing technologies that support consumer finance, credit, debit and prepaid services for financial institutions and retail companies in North America, Europe and the Asia Pacific.

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VISA and MasterCard-Most Recognized Brands

A new report has discovered that one in four global consumers ranked large U.S. financial services companies as “unreliable,” including Citigroup (22%), American Express (18%), Capital One (24%) and Bank One (22%). “The Brand Barometer” poll by Allyson Stewart-Allen and GMI revealed that Capital One and Citigroup scored the poorest with close to one in five U.S. consumers, 20% and 19% respectively, ranking them at the bottom of the trust scale. The American Express brand was also questioned, with 15% of U.S. and 18% of international survey respondents voting they do not trust the network. However, almost half of the global population viewed VISA and MasterCard as reliable or very reliable — 50% and 44%, respectively. Additionally, Stewart-Allen/GMI found that in all countries, the most recognized brands were MasterCard and VISA (both 93%). VISA was the highest scoring brand on the personality scale with comments like “helpful,” “convenient” and “puts the customer first,” while MBNA was perceived as “frustrating” and Deutsche Bank as “rigid.” “The Brand Barometer” surveyed 15,500 consumers in 17 countries on their opinion of financial services that are marketed internationally.

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VISA and AmEx Lead in Customer Respect

The Q3 “Online Customer Respect Study of North American Financial Services Firms” has found that VISA, American Express, and Capital One rank among the highest in delivering the best online customer treatment. With a financial services industry “CRI” average of 6.8, Discover, MBNA, Providian and MasterCard ranked among the lowest. The study, by MA-based The Customer Respect Group, found that as a group, only 17% of credit card issuers provided email forms for contact, compared to an industry average of 83%, and the same percentage did not answer email queries. The research also found that 66% of credit card issuers share customer date with business partners or third parties, compared to an financial services industry average of 38% for business partners and 15% for outside parties.

CUSTOMER RESPECT INDEX 2005
VISA 7.7
American Express 7.4
Capital One 7.1
INDUSTRY AVERAGE 6.8
Providian 4.9
MBNA 4.8
Discover 4.8
MasterCard 4.7
Source: The Customer Respect Group

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Discover Lands its Second U.S. Partner

Discover Financial Services has landed Metris Companies as its second issuing partner in the USA. The new “Direct Merchants Credit Card Bank Discover Card” will be available to customers by the end of this year. In January, GECF and Wal-Mart inked a deal to launch a new credit card on the Discover network, the first credit card issuing partnership outside the Discover network. The GECF-issued “Wal-Mart Dual Card,” launched in March, offers cash back, gasoline discounts and low rates. GECF and SAM’S CLUB also launched the first business card on the Discover network in April. Since the U.S. Supreme Court, without comment, rejected appeals from both card networks in October, over the DOJ antitrust lawsuit, which challenged VISA’s “bylaw 210(e)” and MasterCard’s “Competitive Programs Policy,” Discover and American Express have aggressively pursuing U.S. partners. To-date AmEx has signed issuing domestic deals with MBNA, Citigroup and TX-based USAA Federal Savings Bank. HSBC Finance recently announced it is buying Metris Companies for about $1.6 billion in cash. (CF Library 10/5/04; 1/21/05; 4/18/05; 8/4/05)

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